1923 Alfa Romeo RL Sport
1923 Alfa Romeo RL Sport VIN 7087, Engine 7087
· Most probably the oldest Alfa Romeo RL in existence
· Period racing history
· Chassis shortened in period (1924) to TF specs
· Full list of owners
· Accompanied by a wealth of ultra-rare, period documents
· Recent engine overhaul by German specialists
The Alfa Romeo RL was the first sports car designed by Alfa Romeo after the first world war and can rightfully be described as the predecessor and ancestor of the sporting image of the brand. Many now famous drivers started their career driving on Alfa RL, like Ugo Sivocci, Antonio Ascari, Giulio Masetti and also Enzo Ferrari. The victory of the RL TF at the 1923 Targa Florio brought the laurel wreath to the Alfa Romeo badge, which it proudly carried for many decades to come.
VIN 7087 was produced in 1923 and delivered to Argentina on the 3rd of January 1924 together with a handful of other RL. The Alfa Romeo dealership in Buenos Aires had just recently be founded by wealthy businessman Eduardo Caru Jr. and his father, simply because they wanted to buy an RL themselves and there was no Alfa Romeo branch in Argentina. In these days Alfa Romeos were usually exported without bodywork to save import tax. It can therefore be assumed that all imported RLs were fitted with Argentinian bodies in various specifications.
Eduardo Caru had a strong interest in racing and planned to promote his new dealership by entering the RL in local events, either driving himself or giving the car to a more experienced driver.
VIN 7087 is a 1923 numbering and according to all registries the oldest Alfa RL in existence. It was officially sold for 12.500 Pesos on 15. April 1924 to Ernesto Zanardi, a racing driver who was to promote the car by driving it in numerous racing events during the following years under the name of Ernesto Caru’s dealership. There is a document dating 29.01.1926 mentioning the details of this arrangement, but it is likely that a similar arrangement was in place right from the beginning, since the car was entered in many events under Caru/Zanardi in the years before. Ernesto Zanardi was paid 300 Pesos a month for racing the car as well as having pictures taken by the press. In return, Eduardo Caru had to prepare the car prior to the events. The is also some correspondence between E. Zanardi and the insurance company, where he declares to use the car for racing only and therefore applies for a different insurance rate.
Among the the many proven participations is the 1925 Gran Premio Nacional (3rd overall), 1925 Circuit Castellano (DNF, but fastest lap, clocked at more than 130 km/h average!),
1926 Circuito Audax Cordoba
In 1937, VIN 7087 was with its next owner José “Don José” Oyon, the secretary of the Audax Automovil Club, who continued to race the car. There are documents showing his application for a racing license and the confirmation of the entry of his Studebaker and this RL dating 4. June 1937. Another letter confirms his entry at a local “standard” event, held by the “Automovil Club” in July 1937.
On 19. April 1942 José Oyon sold the car on to Luis A. Sala. As the contract states “automovil de carrera” for 3200 Pesos, with a spare engine and free of debts.
The Sala family kept the car for many decades. More than 60 years, to be exact. To the frustration of his sons, Luis Sala kept on racing and wasted a lot of the family money on this expensive hobby. Obviously to such an extent, that the rest of the family developed a certain hatred against the car. When the father died, the car was abandoned under a shed in the backyard of the house in Buenos Aires. The car was well known in the area, but due to the long family history the owners refused to sell for many years to come.
In 1994, a local Alfa Romeo collector, Eugenio Schlossberg, eventually managed to persuade the family to sell after years of constant trying. The car was pulled from the yard was then subsequently restored under his guidance. Great care was taken to preserve all original parts. It has to be noted that 7087 is not only matching numbers regarding chassis and engine, but also steering, gearbox, rear axle and all other, numbered parts. The only exception being the front axle, which stems from a 1924 model and which is therefore numbered in the 8000 range. This is due to the fact, that front brakes were available only from September 1923 onwards, so a complete 1924 front axle was used as soon as this improvement was introduced.
In 2012, we sold this car to its present, German owner, who had already bought a number of important Alfa Romeos from us in previous years. After an unsuccessful outing at the Flying Scotsman Rally the following year, it was decided to give the car a technical overhaul while preserving the original “oily rag” appearance. The rear suspension was fixed, the clutch and the brakes revised and many other small things that had been improperly done before. Five years ago, the engine was completely overhauled by German specialists. The car has since been a welcome guest at many events and exhibitions. Due to the age of its present custodian, it is now for sale again after 10 years of ownership.
This Alfa RL Sport resembles a unique opportunity to acquire a piece of early Alfa Romeo history. But don’t be misled by its age. Due to its lightweight body and the strong 3 litre OHV engine, it is great fun to drive as well and almost without any contemporary competition.
Note: Click the already enlarged pictures a second time to see them unclipped!